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The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse talks climate change and ethics at RWU

Jocelyn Jackson
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse at Roger Williams University last spring for the Society of Professional Journalists Conference.

On Sept. 21, the RWU School of Law hosted United States Senator for Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse for a mediated, question and answer session. 

The event began with law student Jax Henry giving a land acknowledgement for the lands that the university and Law School were built on and the Native American tribes we have to thank for the present location of the schools. 

Also present at the event were State Representative and RWU political science professor, June Speakman, and State Representitive and second year law student at RWU Law, Brandon Potter. 

Whitehouse began the chat saying that currently, society is in an important Rule of Law moment, referencing the, “shameless bullying, political power, and the shouting down of people with money” occurring in politics. 

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Throughout his talk, Whitehouse kept highlighting the importance of “an honest courtroom” because he viewed it as a place that is integral to democracy as well as a place where the people could take back their power and get true justice. 

As a senator, one of Whitehouse’s most notable platforms is climate change which he discussed at length. 

Whitehouse answered questions related to President Biden’s new actions to combat gas emissions and if they could do more in the climate change area. 

Whitehouse replied to these questions by saying that there are methane regulations being signed into law sometime within the next month. 

Senator Whitehouse also said that he believed that the Biden administration could have a better approach to the EU climate tariffs. 

However, he does believe that, “we are gaining through the fog,” in regards to support of the EU carbon regulations. 

Additionally, since fossil fuels are a large contributor to climate change, are a large contributor to fossil fuels, Senator Whitehouse was asked about what can be done to reduce fossil fuels. 

His reply was to get rid of “dark money” meaning to get rid of lobbying and deals between politicians and large corporations. He supported his argument by stating that since January 2010, there has not been Republican support for climate change legislation because, as Whitehouse said, Republicans chose “unlimited money” from fossil fuel companies over climate change. 

From climate change, Whitehouse then transitioned into answering questions about his opinions on America’s faith in the judicial system to which he said he believed there is still a lot of faith in the judicial systems, and that an honest courtroom can get a lot of things done for typical Americans. 

Additionally, Senator Whitehouse addressed the misconduct by some Supreme Court justices by saying that ethics committees know that justices are not acting appropriately but are “treating the abnormal as normal.” 

The Senator also used the metaphor for treating an infected wound for how to fix the Supreme Court by saying that we have to hit the bottom of the wound, and then begin to hold justices accountable with the Code of Ethics to be able to rebuild credibility in the Court. 

“We cannot end up looking at the Court as a political institution,” Whitehouse said. 

The floor was then opened up to audience questions which included Whitehouse’s opinions on court packing, his thoughts on how to increase bipartisanship in the Senate, and how he stays in touch with his constituents, and creating more transparency in politics. 

Senator Whitehouse concluded his chat by saying that representing Rhode Island is beneficial because it is a small state, and he is able to have lots of contact with his constituents, and is in a “constant public opinion bath” by being able to be in easy contact with a lot of voters. 

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About the Contributors
Lily Neves
Lily Neves, News Editor
Lily has been the News Editor for the Hawks Herald since the Fall of 2023. She enjoys keeping the campus updated on the current events around campus. Lily is a Legal Studies and Political Science double major. Outside of the newsroom, Lily enjoys grabbing coffee with friends, working out, and watching sunsets.
Jocelyn Jackson
Jocelyn Jackson, Editor in Chief
Jocelyn was previously the Opinions Editor for the Hawks' Herald and is currently the Editor in Chief for the fall semester. She will be graduating in December with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Film Studies. Jocelyn has co-hosted the podcast EcoTalk in previous semesters and is a multimedia reporting intern at the Rhode Island Current.

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